Sunday, June 28, 2015

Cigar Lounge Manners: Language...

When you were a kid and said a "bad word," did your parental unit*

A. Slap you upside the head?
B. Ignore you?
C. Yell at you, incorporating the same bad words?
D. Give you the death stare and say under his/her breath, Language...?

I have no memory of what my parents did, but I probably didn't swear because I didn't want to get in trouble.**

Now that you're an adult, you can say anything you want! Anything! And no one can stop you because They are not the boss of you.  Ain't life grand?

When you're adulting throughout the day, you know when to keep the F-bombs inside (work) and when to let them rip (when you drop a hammer on your foot).  Then there are the 50 shades of grey areas: Go for it! Swear mostly any place you won't get fired or divorced or arrested for sliding into NC-17 language.

Technically, the cigar lounge falls into this anything-goes category, since it's for grown-ups only.



You know this, but it bears repeating. The cigar lounge is a place where folks can relax and reflect, and slowly enjoy a premium cigar or two. Generally the music (if any) is low, allowing for chats without background noise drowning out the person next to you. Essentially, take everything you know about a sports bar and then consider the complete opposite. Boom. There's your cigar lounge.

Your loud mouth shouldn't spew the F-word and even (gasp) the C-word, whether in anger or for emphasis.  Sure, we all have our moments of cursitude,*** especially when among friends or asshats. But yelling it every other word?


Repetitively in all its forms (adjective, adverb, noun, verb...), especially all in the same sentence?


When loudly discussing your former spouse, current boss, or the neighbor who consistently and carelessly mows a portion of your lawn way too short even though the property delineation is incredibly clear?

No, although we'll cut you a bit of slack for the last one. After all, it's your lawn. The only thing cut and pruned better is your manscape.

Imagine you're settled in at the cigar lounge, finally relaxing from the chaos that is your life, and someone pulls you from your sweet, sweet reverie with a series of FUCKs.**** 

If you fall into the category of people who don't realize they're swearing, you could get one of those shock collars and give your best friend the remote, although I suspect that will result in a skewed swear-to-shock ratio.*****

A better option: When you step into the cigar lounge, imagine your childhood behavior enforcer standing behind you, ready to whack your noggin, holler bloody hell at you, or creepily whisper Language... through clenched teeth.

Because if you're going to do it, do it right.
Look, I'm not saying swearing is bad and you should never do it.****** I'm saying consider the folks around you and your environment before you work yourself into a cursive frenzy.

P.S. (Is that a thing in a blog post? In this blog, abso-fucking-lutely.) Anyway, for your dining and dancing pleasure, I give you...

The top ten times in history when using the "F" word was appropriate (Stolen from the mighty, mighty internets)

"What the fuck was that?"
-- The Mayor of Hiroshima
"Where did all these fucking Indians come from?"
-- General Custer
"Any fucking idiot could understand that."
-- Albert Einstein
"It does SO fucking look like her!"
-- Pablo Picasso
"How the fuck did you work that out?"
-- Pythagorus
"You want WHAT on the fucking ceiling?"
-- Michaelangelo
"I don't suppose it's gonna fucking rain."
-- Joan of Arc
"Scattered fucking ass!"
-- Noah
"I need this parade like I need a fucking hole in my head!"
-- JFK
1. "Aw, c'mon, who the fuck is going to find out?"
-- Bill Clinton

*Obvs, I came of age in the 1980s.

**I'm SUCH a nerd

***Word I just invented and LOVE.

****The word, not the action.

*****Funny how best friends can simultaneously be your strongest ally and the world's biggest asshole.

******Because damn, I'm good at it!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Evil Genius in the HOUSE! (Except not ALL houses--yet!)

I'd like to say the meeting happened accidentally, but if you've ever met Valentino, you know accidents like that rarely happen.

During The Great Psyko Tasting, SuperFriend Karl  (Hi Karl!) just happened to mention Alex Hirsch, president of Evil Genius Cigars, would hang at Broadway Cigars the next morning--which you know is one of our homes away from home. Karl said we should go if we wanted to meet him.
By the way, Broadway Cigars
now carries Evil Genius cigars. Yay!

Now you know we can't pass up meeting someone fab, plus a trip to Broadway* is always a treat. The only thing holding us up? Morning. I move slowly on a good day.  You know how when you're stuck in traffic and barely moving? That's the every morning in a nutshell.** Just i...n...c...h...i...n...g my way toward productivity (hopefully).

But I rallied, thanks to the promise of blueberry pancakes!***

You. Guys. Alex is so awesome. Not only was he kind and funny and giving, he also handled the antics of this little bastard with aplomb:

Oh Will...

And speaking of giving, Alex opened his magical valise, revealing not potions and concoctions, but instead a number of black- and white-banded cigars.  These cigars (below) came our way, thanks to his generosity. (Also, Alex, thanks for not turning us into toads or anything.)

If you must know, another Evil Genius cigar--the Black Chapel torpedo (6.25 x 52)--may or may not have accidentally gone up in smoke--very slowly, as a good cigar should. Actually, we'd say a darned good cigar with a rum barrel-aged Brazilian maduro wrapper, Ecuadorean corojo binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Peru.  Plus, it's gorgeous, so there's that going for it.

Now you'd think, Why would you start with the stronger one--doesn't the black band say, "Hey, I'm stronger than my white-banded kin over there." You'd think so, but they truly are evil geniuses over there, toying with our expectations, and making the guy in the metaphorical white hat living in the  White Chapel the stronger (bad--but still delish) guy.

That White Chapel is a full-bodied MF,**** a powerhouse consisting of Habano wrapper, sun-grown Ecuadorean Sumatra binder, and three different ligero and a seco tobaccos as filler.  Give that a shot and you'll see just how evil those geniuses are. ::shakes fist at geniuses, evil and otherwise::

The other day, we were where we always are (Habanos) and a guy came in and asked if they carried Evil Genius cigars. (They don't, hint hint.)

Alex, you've got folks requesting them, so whatever you're doing, keep it up! (We'll try to keep Will out of your path. By the way, he wants to know if you received his application for the above job posting. Apparently, he's hoping to move up the ranks quickly, so prepare yourself.)


*Cigars, but Theater District Broadway is also always a treat.

**Does anyone actually put stuff IN nutshells? It's a weird cliche, but I'm sticking with it.

***If you ever need to get me somewhere early, blueberry pancakes is a good motivator, as is MILK chocolate chip pancakes. (There's no room in my heart for semi-sweet chocolate. Life's too short.)

****And when I say MF, I mean MF.

July Cigar of the Month: Perdomo! (Thanks, Two Guys Smoke Shop for the story)

First and foremost,
Congratulations to Miguel and Jon, pals from the Twitter,
who were chosen by the almighty Rafflecopter
and will soon receive a bunch of goodies from us and Ashton Cigars!
(And yes, we said we'd have something for a random commenter.
We're working on that! Don't worry!)

Second and secondmost,
You're going to have to read the story to find the link to the contest.
Bwah hahahaha!

Did you know this is the 12th monthly giveaway? Did you know that means we've been forcing our words upon you for a year? You're welcome. Or: We're sorry.

One of my all-time best friends Jack (also known as J. North Conway), recently signed a deal for some Hollywood-types to make his book Queen of Thieves into a television series.

Jack's most recent book.
Jack's also a fan of Perdomo Cigars, so I thought it apropos we bundle his book with some of his favorite cigars:
The four cigars on the right came from a Perdomo event
held at Cigars International in Hamburg, PA before CigarFest.
The other one, I swiped from the humidor when Valentino wasn't looking!

This match-made-in-delicious-cigar-smoke is also very very serendipitous, as a couple of weeks ago we headed to New Hampshire for a Perdomo, Pistols, and Pizza event, organized by David Garafolo, head honcho of Two Guys Smoke Shop.

I know we've chatted about how awesome and gracious Nick Perdomo and his family are, but I'm going to repeat it and you can't stop me: Nick Perdomo and his family are some of the most kind and gracious people on the planet.

So even though we were literally* out of our element, being in a different state and all,** he and David and Barry Stein (Hi Barry!) made us feel super welcome. We'd wanted to actually go to the sponsoring shop, but the day got away from us and we went running running running to be there in time. That means we're going to have make another trip north. Oh, the things we do for you in the name of research and semi-truth*** in reporting.

[Pretend there's a really cool video here highlighting the event. I tried and tried and couldn't upload it and then decided it was causing more stress than I could handle. So I moved on with my life. Of course that means you don't get to see the video. Sorry!]

And then we shot things on a shooting range. (Yes, we brought part of our arsenal to shoot as well.) And then had pizza. Soooo...awesome day!

(L to R) Perdomo Rep Roy Kirby,
Two Guys Smoke Shop Owner David Garafalo,
and Man of the Hour Nick Perdomo.
[photo swiped from David's Facebook page]
For realz, Two Guys Smoke Shop has tons of fantastic events. Before you go check them out, though, enter this month's contest: a Rafflecopter giveaway

You'll be glad you did! <---Because then we'll be internet BFFs.

And check out Jack's other books, one of which has been optioned (to be made into a movie) by Jeremy Renner. You'll be glad you did! <---Because then we'll be book BFFs.

Oh Archer, why must you be so awesome?

**Although technically we were about 15 minutes from the state line.

***Look, I write fiction (that's the made-up one, not the true one). Anything for a good story (which is why I decided to stop writing for an actual newspaper--back in the day when truth was key to reporting).

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Oh Thursday, you shall henceforth be known as iROBUSTOday

Photo by Brian Kennedy

Ahhh. The peace of the golf course, regardless of the weather:
Sunny (above) and unsunny (below).

Photo by Valentino
You can't see Valentino's thought bubble,* but I guarantee he's thinking,
Oh, I'm playing golf with my cousin Jerry while the rest of you are working.
Bwah hahahah!
If you can't make it to a course (or have no desire to play golf)

*Because I don't know how to work the Photoshop.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rocky Patel joins the Band of Merry Men--and everyone is happy! Now! Includes Men in Tights!

I'm all about gathering my Band of Merry Men about me. In fact, I prefer my world that way--surrounded by awesome fellas who think I'm lovely and charming and hilarious.*
Not exactly them, but you get the gist.
(I wish I could get them in these outfits. Even for a day...hahaha)
Also, Men in Tights in a hoot of a movie!
Valentino, of course, is the Robin Hood in this scenario and I'm Maid Marian, for I am a delicate Renaissance flower.** Caballero #2 is Little John, without the monk's robe. But Little John wasn't around for this adventure, sadly.

Generally we wind up in our secret lair (Habanos in Pawtucket, RI) purely by accident--if you call attendance patterns accidents. Whatevs.

I WISH I could get them to chorus line.
I wonder what it would cost me... because I'd pay cash money.
Something else you need to know about the Band of Merry Men: Their numbers fluctuate and the members vary, depending on work and hangover schedules. You may remember the last official unofficial gathering.

But the other day, many core group members found themselves in the tavern, well-primed (by the mead) for shenanigans and cigars. I thrust--yes, actually thrust--these most awesome-looking Rocky Patel American Market Selection robustos (5 1/2 x 50) (below) at four of them, all with varied cigar-smoking regularity and experience. (I had five, but had to save one for Valentino [obvs], who went missing in Sherwood Forest. Or the walk-in humidor.***) 
The lovely folks at Famous Smoke Shop
sent them to us and said, "Smoke these please."
We're very good at following directions.
I guess I could have given the Band of Merry Men some kind of instruction or told them about the cigar, but...nah. I just demanded, "Smoke this."****

First up, my brother Chris. This was literally his fourth premium cigar ever.*****

New cigar smoker and yet already
mastered one of the key cigar poses.
You know we wouldn't lead him astray (much); his previous three were well-chosen, but this one he declared the best yet. Keep in mind: he doesn't know the cigar lingo or the ever-repeated descriptors, yet he said it surprisingly tasted creamy "and with some nuts or something." Huh.
Our pal Jim's a "few cigars a week" smoker and agreed with this Rocky Patel robusto's creaminess.
Note to self: Monitor photographs
rather than tossing the phone to the next victim.
Take my word for it: this is Jim's hand and cigar.
BTW, nice ash, Jim.
Or maybe we should say, "Nice ash, Rocky Patel."
"This is a good mildish smoke," Jim said, using an overly-technical term. His lovely wife rolled her eyes, because that's what long-time lovely wives do.

Poor Deb. She'd come by to take her husband for ice cream.

Jim, however, had yet to touch flame to cigar.

I threatened Merry Men moniker revocation--plus I'd take the cigar back.  When his eyes pleaded "But my wife..." I took control. We stormed her vehicle, insisting she succumb to our demands. And by this, I mean we begged for Jim to please stay and play with us. I also bribed her with promises of adult beverages. She acquiesced. (Yay!)

"And there's a lot of flavor," he continued. "This Rocky Patel is damn good." Thanks for taking one for the Band, Jim! And sorry about the ice cream, Deb!

Another Band leader, Brian, smokes a bit more than Jim, including stogies on the golf course.

Are my photography skills getting better
or his he incredibly photogenic?
I'd bet on the latter.
"This would be a great smoke for the course," Brian said. "It's mild. I prefer that when I'm playing golf. And this," he pointed to burning cigar, "this is the best part so far. It gets better the more I smoke it." He demonstrated with a deep draw. "Where can I get these?"
I acted as a fair maiden should, instead of cranking the snark and said, "They're exclusive to Famous Smoke. So if you want them, you either drive there or ask the mighty, mighty internets for assistance." He nodded and yanked out his phone.  "What's it called again?"
And then, our hero, the cigar savant. 
I'd probably get better pictures if I, oh, I don't know--
got up from the couch and perhaps even tried to focus.******
"I like this a lot," Valentino said, and then in a stage-whisper asked how many were left.

I shook my head.

"What does that mean?"

"None," I admitted, trying to look demure while holding a bag of Cheez-Its.

Pretty darned close to his reaction.
Sometimes my generosity in the pursuit of a good (or goodish) story causes strife.  Poor Valentino. He was strifed.

Oh my sweet reader, you just went back up to count, because you thought That was only four Merry Men but...Famous Smoke Shop sent five cigars.

And yet I did lose--one cigar.
Yeah. Lost. Merry Man Eric took his and exited, stage left. I may have to vote him out of the group. Or be more clear in my instructions. Or give instructions. Actually, this is probably on me.

Oh! And some things you want/need to know about the Rocky Patel American Market Selection robustos:

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut (Rumor has it, this wrapper was all the rage back in the day--not Robin Hood days, but the early 20th century.)

Filler: Honduran and Nicaraguan

Available sizes:
  • Churchill (7×49)
  • Double Corona (7.5×52)
  • Robusto, obviously (5 1/2 x 50)
  • Sixty (6×60)
  • Toro (6×52)
  • Torpedo (6×52)
And in case you slept through that part, you can only get these at Famous Smoke Shop!

All right. I've got to round up the Band of Merry Men. I'm dying for attention. And a meal I don't have to pay for.

*If you know what's good for you, you will NOT debunk this theory.

**Shush, you.

***Or wherever it is he wanders off to as I hide behind the laptop.

****In a lady-like way, of course.

*****Sorry, Mum!

******Story of my life, this inability to focus.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Know what day it is? Three days after iROBUSTO day!

Oops. Sorry for the delay. I'll make it worth the wait.

Here's a hint as to this week's iROBUSTO column:


You're welcome, by the way.

So yeah. The article is about how awesome your life will be if your best gal smokes cigars too.

Happy Father's Day!

He's the best dad ever, and the fact that he has gone 48 1/2 years without murdering me should get him sainted, stat.
My dad fell asleep while playing with the dog outside.
I think the wearing-out was supposed to happen the opposite way.

And here's Valentino's dad, who passed away this past November. We miss him terribly.

This past August, I snuck his dad here for Valentino's surprise birthday party!
Yes, the pic is blurry, but it's still one of my favorites. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

5 things about...Women Cigar Smokers

Why should you encourage your lady to love the leaf?

Our SuperFriend Nathalie!

I informally surveyed my cigar pals about what makes women who smoke cigars so awesome. (Not really a survey. I got them drunk and demanded answers before returning their lighters.)

5.”You get to double your cigar stuff!” Yeah, having extra humidor space could save the day. Looking to try a new cigar? Look! A humidor filled with new-to-you cigars right…there…

4. Brag about her to your friends. Those guys bitch that their wives hate them going out to smoke and coming home “stinking.” Then in strolls your lovely partner who sits down, kisses you, and lights a premium cigar correctly. You hear a “You lucky bastard” or two.

3. Buying birthday, anniversary, Christmas gifts is a cinch.
Your buddies circle the mall, declaring they won’t buy anything from the jewelry store.  As these poor guys close in on gift-giving day, they weep openly and slide their credit cards under the jewelry store security gate as the store manager tries to close up shop.

But you. You are one lucky SOB. You purchase a high-end monogrammed cutter and lighter. Or a new humidor. Or a box of her favorite cigars. Or or or. Your choices? Limitless.

2. Spend time with your best friend and cigar lounge pals. No leaving her behind as you go out!  No suffering through something she likes! She’s not accompanying you to something she hates!

You’re going out together, hanging with mutual friends with a shared interest. No asking permission to attend a weekend cigar festival. You go together and have a blast!

Do you have to go out together all the time? Gosh no. But you CAN. And that makes all the difference in the world.
The number one reason?

1.      “It’s sexy as fuck,” said every single guy “surveyed.”  Their reasoning:
  • Wishful thinking, where the cigar isn’t just a cigar. (Sorry Dr. Freud.)
  • A woman cigar smoker exudes power, is more in command; apparently guys like that.
  •  She obviously needs relaxation and reflection time, a natural by-product of cigar smoking. 
  • When in the company of cigar-smoking women, they don’t have to hold up a forced conversation.
  •  Plus the whole wishful (hopeful) thinking thing.

This story was originally published on

Words of Wisdom #86

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World! or: Everyone gets a little Psyko or: I went crazy with the sparkles

I gave my Band of Merry Men (or the inmates in my personal asylum) a project and they did so well, they're going to get more. Hahaha! That's the price of doing a good job: More work.* Luckily for these guys, their chores don't constitute hard labor. Unless you consider smoking cigars and hanging out with me a chore--as if that were even possible! After all, it's not like I'm her:

Band of Merry Men charter member and all-around SuperFriend Karl (Hi Karl!) says that "cigars are a mini-vacation." Exactly. (Unless you're with me and I'm hyper-caffeinated, and then it's more of an adventure vacation--no relaxation for you! Or anyone for that matter! Maybe I do get a tad psycho.** But that's a story for another blog post.)

The day Valentino and I received a package from Ventura Cigars, he gave me the "What did you buy now?" look, which is more excited than angry--you know, because those boxes generally contain cigars or cigar swag.***

I shrugged. I didn't think I'd bought anything, but who can ever say for sure? Besides American Express, that is.

This time? Ventura's Psyko Seven Maduro! Wheeee!

What's in the box? What's in the fucking box?****
5.5 x 50 robustos. That's what's in the box!
(Also, the name of the movie fits this cigar perfectly.)
I don't even smoke the damn things and I got all giddy because...packaging! You can take the girl out of the marketing department but you can't take the marketing department out of the girl...

Founded in 2006, Ventura Cigar Co. showcases a large portfolio of cigars, including Hugo Cassar, Cuban Rejects, Cuban Rounds, Pura Sangre, Pura Sangre Edicion 2012, Plasencia Organica Reserva, Estilo Cubano, PsyKo SEVEN, PsyKo SEVEN maduro, and Project 805.

Two years ago, the company updated their look, with a "killer website, and a renewed vision for the future of the company. We know there is a growing contingent of smoker out there just waiting to be the first to try the next big thing, to tell their story, and to be part of a larger social experience," according to that very company website.

It's like they know us! After all, we live and breathe social experience--hence the cigar shenanigans. Also, we're a wee bit nutty.

Some deets, for those of you here for actual information, not just aforementioned shenanigans:*****

Wrapper: San Andreas
Binder: Mexican Sumatra
Filler: Multiple Country Blend
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
We let them rest for a few days and headed to our research laboratory. Okay, Habanos Cigar Lounge, in Pawtucket, RI actually, but "research laboratory" sounds much more impressive--like we actually know what we're doing. Hahahaha. As if. There's no doubt we should be in white coats, though--just not lab coats. Perhaps something a little more form-fitting:

When we arrived, I plopped into a comfy chair, joined soon after by another charter member and SuperFriend, Jim. (Hi Jim!) And then Karl made an appearance; both settled within the enclave as Valentino strolled back over. You'd think I'd shone a signal beacon in the sky and these kind gentlemen answered the call. Or serendipity happened. Either works for the story.

"You have to smoke these now," I told them in my most bossy way while thrusting cigars into their faces.******

One of them said he wanted to finish his current smoke. I gave him the stare and he rested the lit cigar on the ashtray.

   <--Jim  Karl -->  

Most fun thing ever to do? Give three people the same cigar but have them begin smoking at different times. Over the course of each cutting, toasting, and lighting, they all agreed about an aromatic taste in the beginning, as if the cigar were on its best behavior. After that, came "I taste a lot of pepper" from the first man (first man of the group, not the first man ever) to move beyond the aromaticness (an awesome made-up word, a word made up by me, who is awesome).

The remaining Band members shook their collective heads, looking at him as if he were crazy. "I'm not getting that," said Karl. We chatted about upcoming outings (Perhaps commandeering a boat and going deep sea fishing?) and then Valentino, admitted to the ward last, said, "I'm getting a lot of pepper."

Perhaps a nice boat ride, gentlemen?

This happened time and again, as if Jim, the first smoker touching flame to stick, was both Lewis and Clark.******* Or perhaps Randle Patrick McMurphy, leading the charge at a certain Oregon mental institution.

"I tried to knock the ash off and it wouldn't go," Karl pointed out. "That's a well-made cigar." True story. When you remove the cigar's straight jacket, you get something near perfection:

The Band mumbled about cedar and leather and other delicious notes as they worked their way through. Best part, though? As the first starter finished up, he noted  "It's weirdly peppery again. But weird pepper." The others nodded, like he was a bit of a lunatic; how could something be weirdly peppery. It's either peppery or not.

But when Karl hit the same mark, he said, "Oh. Yes. Weirdly peppery." He achieved maximum pensiveness and literally held up a finger. "It's like a 9-volt battery on the tip of my tongue." Ah. Shock therapy.  A few minutes later, the third and final member of the Band said, "Oh yeah" and grabbed at his tongue.) "Huh. That is weird." (I assume that's what he said, as he held his tongue as he spoke.) And then, because our hero is our hero, he went in for more.

Jim looked at his cigar nubbin. "It kept changing with every draw." He stuck a finger in his mouth and said around the roadblock, "And it was a real finger-burner." Warning: Expect a digit-scorching while trying to suck the ever-lovin' last drop of life from the cigar, not unlike sucking the ever-loving life out of McMurphy. (Ooops. Spoiler alert. But really, you must have seen this movie or read the book, right? Right?)

Valentino nodded. "That's why they call is Psyko."

We all nodded and uttered a collective "Ahhhh...Juicy Fruit." <--Not really. They just said, "Ahhhh," but I couldn't pass up an opportunity like that.

For realz. This is one of the best scenes in the movie.

And now, the sparkles:

*When I was a kid and my dad asked me to sweep the floor, I did a crappy job. Then I didn't have to do it again. You can call me crazy, but I prefer clever.

**I'm going to look like a genius in a couple of paragraphs for this reference.

***You know the stereotype where the woman shops and hides purchases and the guy gets mad and can't buy cigars and stuff because aforementioned woman hates that smell? We're the opposite. Complete and total opposite.

****I say this way too much, but in my head, it's hilarious every time. Also, hilarious is one of my new favorite words, right up there with blunderbuss and onomatopoeia. <--Didn't even have to look up the spelling. I love it THAT much. BOOM! <--If you know the definition of onomatopoeia, That, too, is hilarious.

*****I currently fancy myself the shenanigator, my new superhero name.

******Men hate this, right? Hahahahaa.

*******That makes me Sacagawea, I guess. But that's a terrible superhero name. With all these personalities, I'm being to look very Three Faces of Eve, which juuuussssttt happens to fit with the whole post's theme. If you need me, I'll be over here feeling smug.

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